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Cape Harbour chef shares recipe for fun with local kids

By Staff | Aug 10, 2009

It was 1985 when Todd Johnson got the idea.
He was working at a Pizza Hut as a teenager when a group of disabled kids came in to try their hand at making pizzas.
The joy it brought to those kids’ lives stayed with Johnson, and prompted the head chef of Cape Harbour’s Rumrunners to try the same thing with Lee County kids in need of some fun.
Johnson invited pediatric cancer patients from the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to make their own pizzas Saturday morning.
Beginning at The Joint, kids were to make their own pizzas before heading off to make Gelato at Run Agrounds, both at Cape Harbour.
“The experience really stuck with me,” Johnson said of those early days at Pizza, and the happiness it brought to kids who had the opportunity to make pizzas. “We were trying to think of auction items, and one we came up with were pizza and gelato classes. After I thought about it, I said, I’d like to do it anyway.”
The auction Johnson refers to is part of the annual Celebrity Chef Night at Rumrunners, which raises money for the pediatric oncology programs hematology programs in the Lee Memorial Health System.
Top chefs from Rumrunners, The Joint, H2, Mad Takeout and Norman Love Confections gather for the event, and a silent auction is held to raise additional funds.
Jeannie Cummings, director of development for Lee Memorial, said there are still tickets available for the event.
“Our sales are strong but were not sold out,” Cummings said. “And the silent auction will be great … We’ll truly have something for everyone.”
From batting practice with the Tampa Bay Rays to family vacations, the auction will truly be a great mix of options on which to bid.
Until the event, though, Saturday’s cooking classes acted as a kick off of sorts to the big night. Jeanie Cummings credited Johnson’s vision with bringing it all together.
“This is first we’ve done for a preview event,” Cummings added. “We said, lets do kidcentric foods. It really was Todd’s idea.”
Tickets for Celebrity Chef night are $125. For more information or to purchase tickets call the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation at 985-3550.